Santa Barbara Turns the Bench on Panhandling Problem

Like any city in the United States, Santa Barbara, California, is coping with a burgeoning panhandling problem. But what's unusual is the city's way to turn the table on this vexing problem:

Cities have tried many ways to move panhandlers and vagrants out of prime shopping districts, but Santa Barbara believes it has a new angle — 90 degrees.

Using $50,000 in redevelopment funds, the city is planning to turn 14 benches perpendicular to the State Street storefronts they now face. The idea is to make it more difficult for beggars to establish contact with passersby, officials said.

"They'll be sitting with their backs to half the people coming and going on the sidewalk," said Marck Aguilar, a supervisor for the city's redevelopment agency. "They'll have half the potential contacts with the public. It might not be financially beneficial for them."

Steve Chawkins of The Los Angeles Times reports: Link (Photo: Brian van der Brug/LA Times)

Let's see: $50,000 to move 14 benches. That's $3,570 a bench. California, this is why you're broke.

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The panhandlers will just sit sideways on the benches. I thought, maybe they should turn them backwards, but then the panhandlers would sit on the backs. I agree with #3. Solve the problem, not the location.
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